Stay in Tune vol#85
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
Well it's the end of Jan and I have built one instrument already this year. It was a beautifully designed Concert size Ukulele for my good friend Chad Ely's daughter (http://www.elymultimedia.com/ ) . Please check it out on my website
My goal is to build 12 instruments this year 2013. I have started my second one already. It will be very similar to the “Maverick” that I built in 2010. It is a sloped shoulder dreadnaught guitar that will have a 14 fret body joint. The top is a select piece of solid Sitka Spruce. The back and sides are from a AA grade Mahogany. I have not selected the fingerboard and bridge woods as of yet, but I have many choices of wood in my shop to choose from. This guitar is being built to be auctioned off at the Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs P.A. in mid April.( I will be sure to post the actual date as soon as I validate it . I believe it is April 19-21) . For those of you who have not heard of the Riverside Inn, I must say that it has been a source of great fun for my family and many friends for almost a decade. Every spring (always in April) the Riverside Inn hosts a music festival that to me is one of the area's finest. It started out many years ago as a “olde timey” bluegrass festival but has grown into a more progressive event with a larger array of different style musicians ( still a lot of bluegrass too) and other events that are held within the music festival . Last year they included a home brewery competition and a few other events that appeal to a wide variety of people. There are 3-4 different musical stages that there are scheduled performers on the hour . There is also large areas of the hotel that you can find many musicians just gathering around and “jamming”. There is a beautiful outside porch that surrounds most of the Hotel and on warmer days it fills up with all sorts of patrons. And by the way the whole is “FREE” to the public. Being built in the late 1800's , this hotel brings a charm and experience that you can't get at your modern day hotels. So set your calendars for mid April and check out the web site for all of the events and the availability of rooms through out the year. http://www.theriversideinn.com/.
Another really cool project that I have started is the building of a new harp guitar. I built a harp guitar for Mr. Brian Henke back in 2002-3 and at the time met a whole new group of musicians that were into the harp guitar. It turns out there is a very cool and informative website that is dedicated completely to the history and development of the harp guitar http://www.harpguitars.net/ . This site is the brain child of Mr. Gregg Miner who has dedicated years of time and many of his dollars into creating a museum of historical stringed instruments that would rival any collection around. If you want to know anything about the harp guitar you must visit Gregg's website.
Through his dedication of the harp guitar, I have been able to learn more about the history of this extraordinary instrument and meet some of the premier harp guitarists in the country. Once you get into the infectious world of the harp guitar it's hard to think about building regular guitars. I find myself wanting to try new designs and shapes because this part of the lutherie community is generally untouched in comparison to all of the instruments that are being produced today. It's true the market is smaller, but the enthusiasm seems to be greater. The camaraderie and the sharing of information about new ideas and designs are unprecedented when speaking about the harp guitar. I have been able to contact other luthiers like Mike Doolin who is one of the best harp guitar builders around. He is responsible for many great designs such as his “double cutaway” and his fully adjustable neck angle system to name a few. He was gracious enough to share with me, many of his “inventions”through emails and a personal phone conversation. What a great guy! Not only is he an accomplished luthier he also is a master jazz guitarist. I believe he may be the only guitar builder that has built an archtop ,semi hollow body harp guitar, complete with “f” holes and electric pickups. Very cool!
I feel privileged to be a small part of this community of builders and enthusiasts. I, along with Brian Henke attended The 2cd annual Harpguitar Gathering on 2004 . I hope to attend this event ( in late Nov) this year with possibly two harp guitars to show . The event is a great way to meet new people and feel the energy that harp guitarists feel about their instruments. It' really something to behold. Maybe it's because of the uniqueness of the instrument or maybe the sound that it produces or maybe because of the immense possibilities that the harp guitar brings to the player, it has made it one of my favorite instruments to build. Although I seem to have a lot of fun researching , playing and building pretty much any thing that has strings on it and makes a sound, but I think I would like to dedicate more time into harp guitars specifically. I think I have been bit by some sort of “music bug” . It's a lot better than a flu bug.. Having said that I hope all of you are staying warm, safe, and healthy through these winter months. But remember the most important thing is to “Stay in Tune”
Patrick from Liam Guitars / Wood-n-Strings